Posts Tagged ‘Emma Maguire’

Mayerling, Royal Ballet, October 2009

10 October, 2009

Leanne Benjamin as Mary Vetsera, Royal Ballet photo by Bill Cooper

This was the second night of the present run, with Johan Kobborg in the main role as the 30-year-old Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary. His death, with that of his mistress, the seventeen-year-old Mary Vetsera, in January 1889 inspired Kenneth MacMillan to create this ballet in 1978. The state authorities in 1889 attributed the two deaths to a suicide pact in which Rudolf killed her and then himself, but this was almost certainly a cover-up. When the Viennese Medical Institute examined Mary Vestera’s remains in the 1990s they concluded she had suffered severe blows to the head and there was no bullet hole. Rudolf had been shot, but not by his own gun. Although I’m not a conspiracy theorist, the events at Rudolf’s hunting lodge at Mayerling were certainly different from the official version, but there is no need to spoil a good story and MacMillan’s ballet is a darkly dramatic piece.

Kobborg portrayed the prince with care and restraint, allowing the choreography to show his libertine and allegedly sinister side. With Leanne Benjamin as Mary Vetsera we had a superb pair of dancers, and their pas-de-deux at the end of Act II flowed with freedom and spontaneity. Rudolf’s ex-mistress, Countess Larisch was beautifully danced by Laura Morera, showing great stage presence. Emma Maguire as Rudolf’s wife Stephanie did a fine job, and Helen Crawford as Mitzi Caspar, a courtesan and regular mistress to Rudolf, danced with panache. These are just a few of the dancers in a huge cast that worked very well together.

The music is by Liszt, arranged by John Lanchbery, and was conducted here by Barry Wordsworth. The present run continues until November 10th, and I shall report again after seeing a further performance.

Jewels, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, June 2009

9 June, 2009

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This 1967 Balanchine ballet is in three parts: Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds. Mr. B originally hoped that the jewellers Van Cleef and Arpels might bankroll the ballet, and although that never happened, they did sponsor this Royal Ballet production two years ago. The staging is simple yet effective and in each part the costumes, reflecting emeralds, rubies, and diamonds, are delightful.

Emeralds is to Fauré’s incidental music for Pelléas et Mélisande. In this strange tale by Maeterlinck, Mélisande is found by a stream in a forest, like a naiad, and the green of emeralds recalls both the forest and the watery world from whence she comes. The leading couple were Tamara Rojo and Valeri Hristov, with Leanne Benjamin and Bennet Gartside as the second couple, and Deirdre Chapman, Laura Morera and Steven McRae in the pas-de-trois. They all danced extremely well, particularly Tamara Rojo, Leanne Benjamin and Steven McRae, as did the supporting artists, and this was a wonderful start to the evening.

Rubies is to Stravinsky’s Capriccio for piano and orchestra. The racy choreography involves a pas-de-deux for a central couple, in this case Alexandra Ansanelli and Carlos Acosta, who were full of vivacity, looking as if they were really enjoying themselves. They are complemented by another woman, in this case Laura McCulloch, who plays a temptress role, and she and the lead couple take it in turns to accompany the supporting dancers. Again the ensemble work was excellent.

Diamonds is to music from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony 3, which was his last composition before starting work on Swan Lake, and the ballerina is like a diamond in glacial splendour, a precursor to the cold beauty of Odette in Swan Lake. The principal couple, Alina Cojocaru and Rupert Pennefather were brilliant. He danced like a god, with great precision and a lovely line, and she was simply delightful. They were attended by: Yuhui Choe, Hikaru Kobayashi, Helen Crawford and Emma Maguire, as the four soloists, whose dancing was a delight to watch, as they inter-weaved with one another on stage. Again the ensemble work of the other dancers was superb, and this was altogether a terrific evening with a wonderful cast. Valeriy Ovsyanikov conducted with great brio and precision.